|Zach Vanselow lifts a shot high over Braves forward Clint Bones in the first half of Saturday’s 81-79 home loss. Vanselow was limited by foul trouble but dominated the paint with 17 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots.|
Ottawa—The Bluejays weathered a 19-for-27 storm unleashed in the first half by the Ottawa shooters, then roared back to within a shot of victory in front of an overflowing “church night” crowd.
Zach Vanselow picked up a pair of early fouls and finished the first half with more points (8) than minutes played (7:46). Vanselow played his regular shift in the second period, adding 9 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bluejays charge back from a 54-40 deficit.
During a 9:03 span early in the second half, Tabor outscored the Braves 25-7 and knotted the game at 63-63. Kyle Kroeker scored a 2-pointer at 17:46 to start the run, a 3-pointer at 16:03, and a 4-point play when he was whacked by David Birch in the act of scoring a left wing triple at 15:06.
Orson Thomas took the shortest possible route from the perimeter to the rack at 9:08, tying the game at 63 on a layup.
Tabor continued to make hay at the defensive end, and Mike Rousell deposited a medium-range bank shot for the Bluejays’ first lead of the period.
On Ottawa’s next trip, Birch scored his only points of the second half—a layup-and-one—after torching Tabor for 19 in the first half.
The Bluejays regained the lead on a fast-break layup by Jordan Funk, set up by a lead pass from Aaron Whitelaw. After an Ottawa turnover, Whitelaw put back an offensive rebound to extend Tabor’s lead to 69-66.
The Braves outscored the home team 5-1 to tie the game at 70 with 5:20 to go. The Bluejays regained the lead at 73-72 on a short jumper by Thomas set up by Vanselow.
Ottawa came back with a 5-0 outburst, and back-to-back baskets by Vanselow and Thomas evened the score at 77-77.
A layup-and-one by Matt Green gave Ottawa an 80-77 advantage, and Vanselow notched a pair of foul shots with 1:40 to go.
Ottawa committed back-to-back turnovers in the closing moments, but Tabor could not get a shot to fall. A 3-point bid from the top of the arc by Kroeker rimmed out, as did a short hook by Vanselow and a last-ditch one-hander by Whitelaw.
Birch tallied a game-high 22 points.
Four Bluejays scored in double-digits: Vanselow 17, Whitelaw 15, Kroeker 12 and Thomas 12.
Thomas completed his seventh double-double of the season—and fourth of the last six games—with 10 rebounds. Vanselow added 13 rebounds for his third double-double.
Friends—After a 2-2 tie, Tabor went on a 9-0 run and kept the Falcons on the ropes in the first half. The Bluejays gained a 12-point lead on a 3-point shot by Jared Hett at 7:31, and pushed that advantage to 35-23 and 39-27.
Zach Vanselow ramped it to 14 with the first points of the second half, but Friends assembled a 13-0 jaunt during the subsequent 3:01.
Mike Rousell broke the run with a layup off a pass from Kyle DeBlonk, and Aaron Whitelaw followed with a 3-pointer set up by Vanselow. Orson Thomas then put back his own miss, and Tabor led 49-40.
Friends closed the gap to 50-45, but the Bluejays matched the Falcons shot for shot until 4:01 remained.
Then the Bluejay defense put the pedal to the floor, using back-to-back steals and back-to-back scores by Hett on the fast break to regain a 12-point advantage.
Mike Rousell recorded three steals during a 1:26 stretch and Thomas put an exclamation point on the game, dunking a pass from Rousell with 40 seconds left.
Thomas finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Whitelaw went 3-for-4 from 3-point range and scored a game-high 17 points. Vanselow scored 15 points.
Coming—Tabor (6-8) plays Southwestern (9-5) at home Thursday and visits Bethel (5-9) Saturday.